3 myths dispelled about cat allergies

3 myths dispelled about cat allergies

Cats are fantastic companions, but for some persons their company comes at a cost. Up to 1 in 5 persons have an allergic response to cats, and this figure is growing.

There are quite a few myths about allergies to cats, but what is actuality and what is fiction? And can you even now have a cat if you are allergic?

Myth #1: People are allergic to cat hair

There is an component of truth to this fantasy. Even so, relatively than the hair itself, substances on the hair are the source of the allergy. Most individuals allergic to cats respond to a protein referred to as Fel d 1. This main cat allergen is developed in the glands of the cat, which includes the sebaceous (oil-generating skin glands) and salivary glands.

Although Fel d1 is the major perpetrator, domestic cats have eight diverse probable allergens. The next most widespread is Fel d 4, also manufactured in salivary glands.

A further variety, Fel d 2, is related to a protein located in other animals, and the cause a man or woman could possibly be allergic, for instance, to both cats and horses. This similarity can also final result in a little one with milk allergy obtaining an increased possibility of staying allergic to animals like cats.

When cats groom by themselves, they deposit the allergen in their saliva on to their hair. Sebaceous glands are near to the pores and skin and can secrete on to the hair follicles. When you pet a cat’s fur, a response is set off, primarily if you then rub your nose or eyes.

But you don’t need to pet a cat to have an allergic reaction to them. Merely remaining all around dander can be sufficient. Dander may audio like a dating app for animals, but it’s essentially extra akin to animal dandruff and is made up of little scales from hair or pores and skin. As dander particles are so compact, they float in the air and we normally breathe them in.

When cats groom themselves, the allergen is transferred from their saliva onto their fur. Image: Eric Han / Unsplash
When cats groom by themselves, the allergen is transferred from their saliva onto their fur. Graphic: Eric Han / Unsplash

Myth #2: There are hypoallergenic cats

There is no proof that specific cat breeds do not result in allergies. Even so, if some breeds have a lot less hair, or drop a lot less hair, this may well reduce publicity to allergens in the surroundings. For illustration, Sphynx cats are hairless, even though they still produce Fel d 1. In this way, some breeds may possibly be viewed as “hypoallergenic”, or bring about fewer allergic reactions. Nonetheless, there are no scientific experiments to affirm this is the scenario. All cats produce Fel d 1, but the stages can vary by as significantly as 100-fold involving particular person cats. This may make clear why men and women with cat allergies notice they respond much more to some cats than many others.

Fantasy #3: You have to re-house your cat if you have an allergy

If you have a existence-threatening allergy to cats, your only different may be to obtain them a new dwelling. Nonetheless, most persons have less extreme reactions and can regulate indicators properly.

Some issues you can do to limit reactions include:

  • normally clean your palms and prevent touching your facial area and eyes right after managing your cat
  • frequently thoroughly clean surfaces and improve litter to decrease dander
  • clean your cat weekly with a pet-certain shampoo, if your cat likes remaining bathed
  • restrict cats’ accessibility to rooms you want to hold allergy-free, this sort of as the bed room
  • get a vacuum specially made for reducing allergens, these types of as a single with a HEPA filter
  • use air purifiers with HEPA filters.

Adopting a cat when allergic

If you are allergic and want to undertake a cat, make positive to devote some time with them initially to evaluate your reaction. Preferably, decide on a cat that does not make you sneeze. (…)

If cats have to have to be re-homed, this does negatively influence their welfare. You can also see your health practitioner about selections for handling symptoms this kind of as more than-the-counter drugs (these kinds of as antihistamines) and extended-time period methods.

For people with allergy symptoms who want to have their cat and their ability to breathe too, yet another solution is immunotherapy, while there is minimal proof to assistance this procedure for cat allergy symptoms.

Immunotherapy requires initially determining which precise allergen is triggering the reactions, and then systematically offering escalating stages of this allergen around numerous months in an energy to retrain the immune system to tolerate the allergen with no a response. This might be primarily advantageous for all those with average to intense reactions.

There is evidence exposure to canines and cats early in everyday living can lessen at the very least some varieties of allergy. Evidence is still conflicting, although, and most likely relies upon on genetics and other environmental components.

What we do know is that pet cats supply companionship and joy to numerous, and comprehension the will cause and treatment method of pet allergy can only enable both cats and people. DM/ML 

This tale was first published in The Conversation.

Susan Hazel is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Animal and Veterinary Science, University of Adelaide. Julia Henning is a PhD Applicant at the University of Adelaide.

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